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Hi Sheepy,huh ha.. that's a good question as it does seem self defeating.. doesn't it?
Hi All,If the premise of most living things is to procreate, then what is the rationale of a disease/invading organism doing when it kills the host ?..which would ultimately lead to it's own demise !..Surely this serves no long term purpose at all !whjaafink ?Neil
This is, in part, why viruses tend to move towards being less immediately lethal: if they kill their host too quickly they may not have time to be passed on - AIDS is reportedly becoming, even in the relatively short time it's been around, less rapidly lethal (even where the drugs aren't available) because an individual who lives longer has more time to infect other people, so those less immediately lethal forms of the virus will be transferred to more other hosts.
Certainly, enduring viruses do tend to reduce in lethality, but unfortunately viruses do reproduce extremely rapidly, so even a virus with a high 'immediate' lethality can sweep through a population, killing a large percentage before becoming less lethal or virulent. The rapid mutation rate means that this is not such a remote possibility as many people assume.
Can and, indeed, does.. hence the utter mess caused by the influenza outbreak in 1918. I didn't intend to imply otherwise.
It may be easy to decide how to judge success for a species like Humans but the concept of success is more difficult with parasites - just 'not dieing out' is success?